My high school year is probably one of my most cherish memory in my life.

For me, school was not a place to gain education but more as a place to hang out with my friends. Let’s be honest here, nobody go to school just to learn some algebra. The main reason will always be because of your friends. Its not that I have a problem with Malaysia education system but let’s face it, School was one of the ‘coolest’ (convenient) place to hang out especially during extra co-curriculum.

It was a bit more chaotic than I remember and seeing some of the old picture that I took during that time really recalls a lot of nostalgic memory. My first love, my first fall down the stair in public, my first fight against someone over some silly stuff, and to be honest, School is the place that most of us share similar memories.

Everyone have their own high school memory and Junko Takahashi photobook called ‘School Days’ really evoke this nostalgic feeling during my high school years, even though the picture was taken in different place with a different culture.

INTRODUCTION

I saw Junko Takahashi work on my Tumblr newsfeed and I was suprise to see how simple the photographs looks. It wasn’t something from her School Days photobook but from her latest work, ‘The Receptionist’. There is a subtle glow in her work which seems to be a common staple for a photographer coming from Japan and later on I found that there is a book of her that is on sale at So-Books (http://so-books.tumblr.com/). Her work reminds me or Rinko Kawauchi although with a slightly higher in contrast.

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A click on the website preview provoke me to buy a copy and for 1500yen, it seems to be a bargain but I hesitate for a while since I have used up all my budget on photobook for that month. But I was lucky that  a friend of mine happen to visit Japan recently and he agree to get that copy for me (although he ended up with more photobook than he could carry). Personally, I believe I have a good taste in photography and usually I could immediately tell a good photobook (or movies) from seeing one of its pages and Junko Takahashi ‘School Day’ photobook really have that certain vibes which is similar to the first time when I saw Hajime Kimura photography work.

Photography should be honest and clear to other people and I find the subject in her photobook is probably one of the honest subject to be approached by a photographer.

FIRST IMPRESSION

COMPACT, TIGHT, FIRM.

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Well, it sounds decent enough but ‘School Day’ is just like any normal A5 sized softcover photobook would be but of course of a good quality, especially in term of printing and binding. The printing was good and I really like the rendering of the warm vivid color of the photograph. It gives a good retro atmosphere to the whole series. A flip through some of the pages reminds me of some of the scene in Anime where the main character will always sits at the end of the classroom facing the windows (I am a fan of Japanese manga by the way).

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One thing that I notice is that people could somehow experience the life of a Japanese student in their school and as someone who grew up with Japanese anime and manga, this give me a wonderful insight on the actual life of a real Japanese student. Although this was taken from a teacher perspective.

WHAT MAKES IT INTERESTING?.

This picture was taken by the photographer when she is working as a teacher in one of Japanese High School. The matter of perspective is really important here and it should probably be one of the highlight in the photobook. The fact that is was taken from a teacher point of view who is probably trying her best to mix with the student is truly admirable and as a result, the intimacy with the student is truly obvious in the series just as if it was taken by one of the student.

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It reminds me of the nostalgic feeling during my high school years and I truly wish I have taken a lot of picture with my friends. All the silly stuff that we did, just like the one in the photobook where the kids is playing baseball or cricket in the hallway. Crazy stuff!.

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If the pictures doesn’t give you this fuzzy feeling in your stomach, then I don’t know what you have been through during your teenage years. The photobook seems to be rare and it quite hard to see a copy of it online so if you saw one, just grab it. Its worth it.

GOING THROUGH THE BOOK.

Like any normal book, you need to flip through the pages to see the next picture.

The picture were well printed and all the photograph have this warm colour tones in which probably because of the film used by the photographer. There is a sense of intimacy in the entire series and it started out with a few portraits of her student before slowly getting into the candid surrounding around the school.

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This is one of my favorite picture. It truly reminds me of my school years and to be honest, I believe my classmates is much more crazier than this.

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And it is nice to see how the photographer decide to add a series of picture on a spread pages. This doesn’t work well unless there is some obvious changes within every frame but then again, it gives you a good idea on how the school atmosphere is. I could swear that I heard some Japanese while flipping through this book.

CONCLUSION.

For a small and rare book, this is truly a stunning addition to my collection.

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I consider myself lucky to get a copy of this as it seems to be pretty hard to find elsewhere on the internet other than in some second hand book store in Japan. Junko Takahashi did a wonderful job in capturing all the picture for the book. I wish I could meet her and say ‘thank you’ for going through all the effort to make the book a reality.

The photobook could also serve as a way to introduce the Japanese school culture, especially for those Anime fans. As for photographer, it might depends on their interest but I simply love the photobook and totally recommend it to whoever manage to get their hand on it.

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